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Yellow tomatillos are small in size, averaging 2-7 centimeters in diameter, and are round to heart-shaped with a small indentation surrounding the thin, light brown stem. Covered in a characteristic papery tan, outer husk, the slightly sticky husk encloses a firm, yellow fruit, and as the husk matures, it splits open and fades from green to light brown. The pale yellow to white flesh is moist, dense, and filled with small ivory seeds. Yellow tomatillos are tender, juicy, and crisp with a subtle, sweet flavor reminiscent of honeydew.
Yellow tomatillos are available year-round.
Yellow tomatillos, botanically classified as Physalis philadelphica, are small hardy fruits that grow on low, sprawling plants and are members of the Solanaceae or nightshade family along with tomatoes, eggplant, and potatoes. Also known as Amarylla tomatillos and Husk tomatoes, Yellow tomatillos are a Polish variety and are somewhat rare to find in the commercial marketplace. Yellow tomatillos are favored for their subtle flavor and are much sweeter than the tangy green tomatillos from Mexico. They were also bred to grow in cooler climates, produce high yields, and to be open-pollinated, which means the seeds will create new plants that are identical to the parent.
Yellow tomatillos contain vitamins A, C, and K, potassium, manganese, fiber, and magnesium.
Yellow tomatillos are best suited for both raw and cooked applications such as sautéing, boiling, or roasting. They can be diced and used raw in salsas, sauces, guacamole, jellies, and jam, or they can be blended into sausage dishes, enchiladas, and tacos. They can also be used fresh as a snack or mixed into green salads. Yellow tomatillos can be chopped and cooked in soups, stews, and chowders, or simmered with meat dishes for flavoring. Yellow tomatillos pair well with cilantro, onion, garlic, serrano peppers, bell peppers, cabbage, carrots, celery, avocado, meats such as pork, beef, and poultry, and rice. They will keep up to three weeks when stored in a paper bag with their husks still attached and in the crisper drawer of the refrigerator. Yellow tomatillos can also be washed and frozen for extended use.
Tomatillos are a staple ingredient in Mexican cuisine and tomatillo translates to “little tomato” in Spanish. Though tomatoes and tomatillos belong to the same family, tomatillos offer a thicker, meatier consistency and tangy flavor for salsa. Yellow tomatillos are also used in salsa in place of green tomatillos and give the salsa a sweeter, less tangy flavor. It is also important to note that when selecting Yellow tomatillos, they should be firm when ripe and not squishy, as green cultivars turn yellow when overripe and are sometimes sold as Yellow tomatillos.
Tomatillos are native to Mexico and Central America where the Aztecs first cultivated the fruits as early as 800 BCE, and they were then spread to the rest of the world via explorers and trade routes. Yellow tomatillos are believed to be a Polish variety and were bred to thrive in the cool climates of Eastern Europe, but the exact dates and history are unknown. Today Yellow tomatillos are available at select farmers markets and specialty grocers in Europe, Central America, and the United States.